Inspiration & insights from the path toward happiness & wisdom from a yogi and Christian mystic.
Pain teaches a most counterintuitive thing—that we must go down before we even know what up is. It is first an ordinary wound before it can become a sacred wound. Suffering of some sort seems to be the only thing strong enough to destabilize our arrogance and our ignorance. I would define suffering very simply as “whenever you are not in control.”
All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it. If your religion is not showing you how to transform your pain, it is junk religion.”
In order to understand contemplation and the contemplative mind, we need to talk about our true self in God. This is the only self that has ever existed, and the only self that contemplates reality in its first and final big frame. The small, false self can only “calculate”—with itself as the reference point. As if it were! The work of religion is to get you to know who you are and always have been: “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). From this vantage point of love and union alone is spiritual knowing possible.
You came from God and will return to God. Your deepest DNA is divine. You are already a spiritual being—the much more difficult question is how to be human! That is what we have yet to learn. I believe that’s why Jesus came as a human being: he didn’t come to teach us how to go to heaven but to teach us how to be simple, loving human beings here on this earth. Some “non-religious” people do this much better than us “spiritual” folks.”
“Being religious means asking passionately the question of the meaning of our existence and being willing to receive answers, even if the answers hurt.”
The awakening of the True Self in God, is the essential foundational and primary task of all religion. Thus authentic religion is more about subtraction than addition, more letting go of the false self than any attempt at engineering our own True Self. You can’t create what you already have.
We become the One we gaze upon. And the “eyes by which we look back at God are the same eyes by which God has first looked at us” (Meister Eckhart). This reciprocal gaze is the True Self, perfectly given to us, and always waiting to be perfectly received. It is so dear and so precious that it needs no external payoffs whatsoever. The True Self is abundantly content as it is.”
On a first level I see mystical moments as moments of enlargement. Suddenly we’re bigger. We don’t feel a need to condemn, exclude, divide or separate. Secondarily, mysticism is a deep experience of connectedness or union. Unfortunately, most of us were sent on private paths of perfection which none of us could achieve. The path of union is different than the path of perfection. Perfection gives the impression that by effort or more knowing I can achieve wholeness separate from God, from anyone else, or from connection to the whole. It appeals to our individualism and our ego. It’s amazing how much of Christian history sent us on a self-defeating course toward private perfection.
As a result, many people just gave up—even many clergy and religious—when they saw it never worked. They ended up practical agnostics or practical atheists. They keep up the form, keep up the words, they keep going to church, but there is no longer the inner desire and expectation that is possible with the path of union. Mysticism does not defeat the soul; moralism does.”
“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
“The common error of ordinary religious practice is to mistake the symbol for the reality, to look at the finger pointing the way and then to suck it for comfort rather than follow it.”
“If there is any religion that could respond to the needs of modern science, it would be Buddhism.”